Morocco first Arab country to submit climate pledge ahead of Paris negotiations

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Last Friday, Morocco became the first Arab country to submit its climate pledge for the next major climate meeting in Paris this December. This submission includes mitigation policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and policies for adaptation to climate change impacts. In addition, Morocco will soon submit its third National Communication to the UNFCCC with details on its greenhouse gas inventories and existing measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change. It is a welcome sign that they are stepping up and showing that they will take action since the new agreement is envisioned to include commitments from all countries.

Morocco's plan to reduce emissions will be economy-wide, covering sectors such as agriculture, water, waste, forests, energy, industry and housing - with most reductions coming from the energy sector. Morocco commits to reduce emissions 13 percent below business as usual "unconditionally", meaning this reduction will be implemented without enhanced support from outside the country. The remaining 19 percent reduction (putting their total proposed cut at 32 percent) - its "conditional" pledge, will be reached only with new access to finance and support (see figure).

The investment required to meet this "conditional" target will be $45 billion, a portion of which is expected to be accessible through international climate finance mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund. Already, more than half of Morocco's climate-related investments have been devoted to adaptation as they are putting their own resources into helping reduce their risk to climate damage.

The emissions reduction pathway includes greater investments in renewable energy, along with various sector objectives and action plans for green growth. The country has an ambitious but achievable goal of reaching 50% renewable electricity production by 2025, and plans to reduce fossil fuel subsidies and increase the use of natural gas.

Morocco's climate pledge also addresses two areas that are vital to building a functional global climate system.

  • Finance: As a developing country, Morocco addressed directly the question of support for its climate initiatives: "Beyond financial support, Morocco would also benefit from technical and institutional capacity building, particularly regarding the creation of data and knowledge sharing. It would also benefit from legal, financial and engineering support pertaining to designing and implementing projects at the regional and local levels, as well as for the monitoring and evaluation of their socioeconomic impacts"
  • Monitoring progress: Morocco also addressed the issue of monitoring and evaluation: it plans to "put in place a system to monitor and assess vulnerability and adaptation to climate change. It offers an institutional mechanism that allows for the monitoring of climate vulnerability and the results of adaptation actions, taking into account gender issues."

Morocco started doing consultations on its intended climate target in January 2015, with a national climate change conference held in June at which the intended climate pledge was presented to stakeholders. Going forward, we can only hope that other countries can adopt a transparent and inclusive process.

As the upcoming host of the next major meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change after Paris (in November 2016), it is a welcome sign that Morocco has submitted an ambitious climate pledge early - showing that both developed and developing countries are fully engaged in the process of designing their climate pledges.